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by Harold Adams
Walker & Co., November 1999
208 pages
ISBN: 0802733360

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Harold Adams is the author of the Carl Wilcox series. Carl is an itinerant sign painter. This is the first Carl Wilcox book I have read. In this one, Carl Wilcox, former playboy, has just gotten married and is spending his honeymoon with his new wife Hazel on a camping trip. They are awakened by the sound of a gunshot, go to investigate and Carl attempts to rescue a man whose body is in the way of an oncoming train.

This book is different from most books I read and, to be honest, I am having trouble deciding if I liked it or not. The cover of the book attracted me. It is true that we are told not to judge a book by its cover, but in real life, a cover can make or break it with me. This cover is a wonderful 1908 oil painting of a train by Edward Hopper. There is something very appealing about this cover, which is not the stereotypical mystery book cover.

I had trouble pinpointing the time frame of the story. There is talk of a Model T car and other evidence that leads one to realize that this book is written in the Depression-era. However, I found the behavior of the people in the book very unlike what I have imagined for that time period. The main women characters in this book are very straightforward and, for example, talk of sex and a woman's monthly cycle is not couched in euphemisms of the time period.

I found it hard to believe that the sheriff in the book would go along with the mayor's hiring of Carl to help solve the mystery of the murder. No one in town knows Carl and has no reason to turn to him, and yet they do. I had to suspend disbelief one too many times in this story. Carl does not investigate the murder as much as he pokes about, seemingly in no hurry to find out who the culprit is.

The writing style of this book is very laid back and reminds me of Larry Watson's books, (Montana 1948 or White Crosses), which I found to be delightful. This book is as much a "general fiction" book as it is a "mystery", which just proves that it can be detrimental to pigeonhole the books we read.

Reviewed by Kate Mutch, August 2001

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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